Strait Talk: United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis With China

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Strait Talk: United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis With China
By Nancy Bernkopf Tucker
Harvard University Press, 2009
404 pp. $35.00
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Although Washington's Taiwan policy has been outwardly clear and consistent since 1972 -- defined by the so-called communiqué framework and the Taiwan Relations Act -- Tucker shows that the actual negotiation record from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush was rife with confusion and mistrust. She focuses on the less-studied Washington-Taipei leg of the Beijing-Washington-Taipei triangle, tracing the interaction of policies and personalities with a level of detail made possible by extensive interviews and archival research and with a clarity of judgment made possible by a long familiarity with most of the protagonists. Tucker acknowledges that U.S. grand strategy during this time enjoyed some successes: China became a counterweight to the Soviet Union, and Taiwan survived. But she argues that the United States repeatedly yielded more to China than it had to, and the shoddy way it treated Taiwan created a legacy of mistrust not only in Taipei but also among allies throughout the region.